Danny Garcia beat a legend and became a world champion tonight when he took a unanimous decision over Erik Morales. It was an emotional moment for Garcia, who broke down in tears after being announced the new holder of the WBC light welterweight belt.
Make no mistake, Garcia had to earn this victory. Morales, the old man and legend, fought hard and was able to bust up the face of Garcia with a sneaky jab and good right hand. For all the concerns over Morales having missed weight and looking soft once again, he was entirely capable against the younger, faster Garcia.
[ Undercard: Kirkland Gets Bizarre DQ Win ]
Speed was clearly in the favor of Garcia from the opening bell, but Morales was masterful at times at laying traps and finding ways to get in his power shots. Garcia appeared to be laying back a bit too much in some rounds, allowing Morales to get comfortable in working the jab. In the rounds where Danny's workrate went up, Morales tended to end up with his back along the ropes, eating clean right hands.
The true work that may have dictated the way the fight ended up going may well have been Garcia's left hand to the body. The punch that Morales vowed to "take away" though aggressive countering ended up being the punch that slowly brought down his hands and opened up the hard hooks and straight rights from Danny. In round eleven the openings up top led to Morales being cracked hard and going to the canvas as his legs betrayed him.
He'd put up a few valiant flurries over the remaining time in the fight, but he was beaten the moment he hit the ground, even if the scorecards had him beat well before then.
[ Undercard: Charlo Twins, Kavanagh, Lane Victorious ]
While most scores I've seen around the internet favored Garcia in the 115-112 range (the score I had as well), the official scores were 117-110, 116-112 and 118-109. With the WBC once again bringing their controversial open scoring to the corner, Morales' corner was telling him late in the fight that he was down so badly on the cards that he would need a knockout to win the bout.
Following the valiant effort from the old man, HBO commentator Max Kellerman asked Morales if this would be his last fight. Erik was noncommittal saying that he's "really have to think about it" before making a decision of such magnitude. He's clearly not a "great" fighter at this point in his career, and one was left thinking that a fighter of Garcia's quality is someone Erik would have run through in his prime. That alone may be motivation for Morales to hang 'em up, but the fact that he was able to compete for most of the fight with a 24 year old like Garcia may be motivation to give it one more go.
With the win, Garcia takes the WBC crown and remains undefeated at 23-0 while Morales is now 52-8.